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Sources: Bin Laden link to Paris plot

Jean-Louis Bruguiere
Jean-Louis Bruguiere is investigating allegations of a plan to attack the U.S. Embassy in Paris  

PARIS, France (CNN) -- A French-Algerian arrested in Dubai has told prosecutors he was recruited and trained by a key aide to Osama bin Laden and that his target was the U.S. Embassy in Paris, sources close to the case have told CNN.

It appeared, said the sources, that Djamel Begal, 35, was cooperating in the French investigation.

The sources said that during an 11-hour interrogation by a French judge, Begal detailed his involvement in terrorist plots and cited his connection to a bin Laden associate, Abu Zubeida.

Zubeida is believed to be one of bin Laden's senior lieutenants, responsible for managing suspected terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. He is thought to have gone to ground in the UK.

Intelligence sources say Zubeida trained other known terrorists like Ahmed Ressam, arrested on the U.S. border with Canada in 1999 and convicted of planning terror attacks to coincide with millennium celebrations in Los Angeles.

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Zubeida also is believed to have trained Fateh Kamel, who was convicted, among other things, of forging documents for members of the Algerian terror organisation GIA, or Armed Islamic Group, responsible for a series of attacks in France, Belgium and Algeria over the past decade.

Begal also is understood to have given evidence against Belgium-based accused terrorist Nizar Trabelsi, arrested on September 13 at a Brussels apartment where police found machine pistols, chemical formulas for bomb-making, detailed maps of the U.S. Embassy in Paris -- and a smart business suit.

Evidence from Begal suggests that Trabelsi was planning to walk into the U.S. Embassy with explosives strapped to him in a suicide bomb attack, wearing the suit as cover.

Trabelsi is in police custody in Brussels and has so far refused to cooperate with authorities.

Despite Begal's apparent moves to cut a deal with prosecutors, experts say it's unlikely Trabelsi will do the same, since, say prosecutors,he had already resolved to kill himself when he attacked.

Reported confession not denied

Publicly, French authorities would not say anything about the reported confession.

The office of Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the magistrate investigating allegations of a terrorist plot to attack the U.S. Embassy in Paris, would neither confirm nor deny the reports of a confession by Begal.

A spokesman for the magistrate investigating the matter said under French law the magistrate is bound not to make any disclosures until the investigation is finished.

However, the fact that the reported confession was not denied is considered significant.

A reporter for Europe 1 Radio said he had seen the confession and that in it, Begal said that the Paris attacks were to involve a minibus packed with explosives.

Begal, a French national of Algerian origin, arrived in Paris after being extradited from the United Arab Emirates this past weekend, where he has been arrested in July, charged with traveling with a fake French passport.

Sources say he had already cooperated with the investigating authorities in Dubai. Experts say Begal is trying to avoid extradition to the United States and wants to cut a deal with French prosecutors.

-- CNN Correspondent Diana Muriel contributed to this report.


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